The thunder blended into the fireworks. It was dark and the street was empty. Even the homeless guy on University and St. Andrew was hiding out in the TD Bank, carefully spreading his stuff out under the machines.
It was around one when I got on the subway. I moved my head around trying to make it feel lighter. Across the aisle from me, on the two seats facing forward, sat Natalie.
She was alone. I thought I should get up and move down the train but my head felt too heavy. I was looking at her when she turned. She recognized me and called out. I got up and sat down on the blue seat next to her. She didn’t say anything for a while. I didn’t either. It was late and a long weekend. Her head, I imagine, was as heavy as mine.
“You still go all the way?” she asked, “To Finch I mean.”
I said I did. She smiled and turned back to the window. She had cut her hair. Otherwise, she looked the same as she had in school. The train went above ground and then under again.
“Darling,” she said, still watching the window.
That was new. The last thing she called me was “hey you”.
She turned towards me.
“Do you think I’m prejudiced?”
I didn’t know what to say to that.
“If a guy tells me he goes to a college, any college, I lose interest. Is that wrong?”
“Then there’s the race thing. Always white American business majors. Have you noticed?”
I said I hadn’t.
“Well, it’s true. Except for at Rachel’s parties. Then there were at least three black boys and a Sikh. That’s not right is it?”
“I don’t think it’s wrong Nat. You just have a type.”
“Yes. A type.”
She looked up at the train ceiling as if for confirmation from above.
“Have you ever been with a woman Lawrence?”
“Yes Natalie,” I said, “I’m what they call ‘a heterosexual’.”
“How nice. And you’re American?”
“I’ll cry if you are.”
“Please don’t,” I said, “I am American though.”
“And you like women?”
I asked why and she looked at me like she used to when we sat together during tests.
“If you’re a white American business major who likes women and you don’t like me…”
“I’m very fond of you Nat. Besides, I’m not a business major. It’s chemistry.”
The train had stopped at a station but no one got in. The doors were closing. I suddenly wanted to run out of them and onto the platform, up the stairs, and into the rain. The train moved off.
“Have you noticed? I started saying ‘darling’.”
I told her I had. Our stop was next. I wanted to say something, but I wasn’t sure what.
“You know in French ‘my darling’ is ‘ma biche’,” I said.
We used to take French together. The train had stopped but the doors hadn’t opened yet.
The doors slid open. We got out and onto the platform. I asked if she needed a ride. She said no, Mark was picking her up.
“He’s white and American,” she said, “maybe you know him. He drives a Volvo.”
I walked up to the pickup area with her. It had stopped raining and the air was cool. I could still hear fireworks. She leaned in and kissed the top of my lip.
Then she walked through the waiting area and into a Volvo.
What did I do? I walked back downstairs and into the train. The conductor was in the window.
“Lucky you made it on. This one’s it for tonight.”
I told him I felt lucky.
I didn’t live at the stop she got off at anymore. I moved right after high school. I’d have to tell her sometime. Maybe tomorrow. I could call her. I could call her and tell her. I could tell her where my new place was. Tomorrow.
Marina Klimenko is a third year English and History major at the University of Toronto. Her hobbies include kayaking, watching Woody Allen movies and telling people what to read.